Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Roast pork chop with spicy runner beans, tomatoes and creamy mustard sauce

Normally when I roast things I add lots of mashed/roasted potatoes, but I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with that way of cooking.

I'm not on the Atkins diet or anything, but I do eat too many carbs so I thought this might be a nice way to spice up (no pun intended) my usual method with roast pork chops.  And it works - hooray!  I used some nice fresh runner beans from my local farm shop (I know, I'm middle class) but you could probably use tinned borlotti beans instead.  Plus you could always ask your Grandma, as people over 60 love growing runner beans.  Rare breed pork is the best, if you can get it.  The paprika and tomatoes make the runner beans more exciting and the tartness of the tomatoes goes very well with the rich pork.

  • 1 x good quality pork chop
  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • 3 x fresh sage leaves
  • 1 x bay leaf
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Handful of runner bean pods
  • 1 dessert spoon double cream
  • About 1 tbsp hot paprika (I'll let you be the judge)
  • Half a 400g tin of Italian chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp English mustard (wahey!)
  • 1-2 tbsps olive oil (I didn't really measure this, as you can tell)
  1. Get your pork chop out of the fridge at least half an hour before you start cooking so that it can adjust to room temperature.  Pre-heat the oven on full blast, which should be about 250 degrees.
  2. Put a whole garlic clove, unpeeled, in the centre of a little roasting dish.  Place the bay and sage leaves on top.
  3. Using a very sharp knife, carefully make incisions with about a centimetre and a half in between along the skin of the pork, but try not to penetrate into the flesh.  Rub a bit of salt into the skin, particularly in the incisions, and season the flesh with salt and plenty of pepper on both sides.
  4. Put the chop on top of the garlic and sage leaves.  Drizzle with a little olive oil (not too much or the skin won't go crispy - don't worry, there's plenty of fat inside the pork chop itself) and splash a little Worcestershire sauce on top, then put it in the oven.  After 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 180 degrees and continue roasting for 20 minutes until the pork is cooked through.
  5. While the pork's cooking, heat some olive oil in a saucepan on a medium heat.  Top and tail the runner bean pods and cut them up into small pieces (cut them diagonally if you want to be cheffy).  Chuck them in the pan and saute them for a few minutes.  Add some grated garlic and paprika to taste - paprika can vary in terms of heat so if you like add it in little bits to see how much you like - then spoon in half a tin of chopped tomatoes.  Season it with salt and black pepper and stir it frequently so that it doesn't stick.  Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary.
  6. Using a ladle or similar large spoon, put the beans in the centre of the plate and sit the pork chop on top.  Put the roasting tin on the hob and heat it up quite high, then add a little hot water from the kettle to dislodge the sediment.  Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula and make sure you squash the garlic clove, then stir in the mustard and cream.  Strain the gravy into a jug and spoon it over your pork chop.
If you don't mind a few carbs with this meal, have a bit of nice crusty bread on the side to mop up the sauce.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The German Cabbage Experience (Part 1)

Examples of common household objects you can use.
You may be looking at this picture and thinking "roflcopter wot is he doing with those tinz lolz".  Well, I'll tell you - I'm making sauerkraut!

German cuisine may not be world-renowned (well, to be fair, nor is British) but that's not to say they don't have some good recipes.  Sauerkraut, for those of you who haven't had it, is basically pickled cabbage, and it goes very well with roast pork and sausages.  I had a bit of sausage when I went to Germany and it was exhilarating.

Get yourself a cabbage and chop it into quarters.  Shred it finely and put it in a mixing bowl, then add some apple slices and one and a half-two tablespoons of salt and mix it all up.  Cover it with a clean tea towel, then add a plate and weigh it down with some tins of tomato/baked beans/tuna.  Leave it to ferment for about a month (seriously - the salt draws the water out and preserves it) and change the tea towel every couple of days.  At least, that's my plan based on research I carried out on t3h internetz.

What will happen to the sauerkraut?  Will it turn into the delicious German sausage adornment, or will it just become a rotting pile of green vegetables?  We'll see in about a month's time!

Ridiculously easy tandoori chicken

Full of chickeny goodness.
I'm of the opinion that the best recipes are often the simplest.  Overcomplicated cooking is like Shakespearean lesbian porn - it just doesn't work.

This recipe is a great opportunity to practice your chicken mutilation skills, though you can ask your butcher to joint the chicken for you.  By butchering your own chicken you save money and you get a carcass left over to make a nice stock with.  There are a few different methods that people use, but I'd recommend those methods that involve leaving the wings attached to the breasts as breast meat is nicer on the bone (in my opinion) and if you really want to take the wings off you can.  You can also do this with other birds.

As for the recipe itself, it's straightforward and designed to replicate the kind of food they eat in northern India, which involves breads like roti and naan rather than rice.

  • 1 x big free range chicken, jointed into six pieces (plus the carcass that you keep for later)
  • 4 x cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
  • 2 x green chillies, seeds in (\m/)
  • 3 x tbsps coriander powder
  • 2 x tsp ground cumin
  • 2 x tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 x tsp turmeric
  • 1 x tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bake your dried spices in a hot oven for about 10 seconds as this improves their flavour.  If you've got whole seeds, you can toast them whole in a dry frying pan and then crush them up to make the powder.  Mix them together with the lemon juice, the vegetable oil, the salt, the pepper, the finely chopped chilli and the grated ginger and garlic (preferably using a pestle and mortar) until you have an orangey red paste.
  2. Make a couple of cuts in each chicken piece using a sharp knife, then put it in a mixing bowl and smear the paste all over the chicken, making sure it gets into the cuts to really penetrate the flesh (we're all about penetration here at Heavy Metal Cooking).  Then do the same with the yoghurt and leave it to marinade for at least two hours or preferably overnight.
  3. Turn the oven on at full whack (which is probably about 250 degrees), and when it's come up to heat put the chicken on a baking tray and put it in the oven.  After about 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 190 and let it cook through for a further half hour (that way you get moist flesh but a crispy, charred skin).
  4. Serve with naan bread and enjoy!
It's a shame I missed barbecue season really as I think this recipe could have worked.  Ah well, life is full of disappointments (e.g. every Metallica album from the last 12 years).

Stay tuned as I will soon be uploading a very metal video demonstration of how to joint a chicken!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Now that the nights are drawing in quicker than Jodie Marsh finding a photo opportunity, and there's a wee nip in the air, the temptation for stodgy food increases.

But fear not, if you still want it healthy(ish). This recipe can incorporate many of your five a day, and doesn't have to be loaded with fat - it depends really on how much cheese you like!

I make burritos; the tortillas are wrapped into parcels. You can roll them instead to make enchilladas, but you don't get the nice alliterative title!

Start off by preparing the spice mix. I am a wuss when it comes to spicy food; this mix is on my limit, but hot food lovers will find it flavoursome rather than kicking. This recipe will give you enough filling for 6 burritos. I mix:

2 beef stock cubes
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp cayenne pepper - this is what gives the kick, so the braver among you may want to add more

I grind them all together in a pestle and mortar, but giving them a stir with a spoon in a bowl will do.

Put to one side, then finely chop:

1 onion
garlic (add as much or as little to taste)
1 deseeded pepper - ideally should be no bigger than the kidney beans you will add

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan, and soften the onions and garlic.

Take one small tin of kidney beans, open, and drain - leave to one side, to allow all the fluid to dry off.

Once the onions start to soften, add the peppers, and turn up the heat slightly, as the peppers will release moisture and you end up with a gloopy mess. Fry off for about 2-3 mins.

Add a 250g portion of beef mince. I use beef. You can use any other mince meat, if you wish. Hey, you can even use soya or quorn mince (heresy! - Tim) if you are a veggie/vegan, obviously missing out the stock cubes. Brown the mince (meat only); you may need to turn the heat up again, slightly.

Once browned, add the beans, turn the heat back down to medium.

Add the spice mix, and stir well.

Add half a tin of chopped tomatoes to the filling.

Leave to simmer for 10-15 mins, if you have time. At this point you can add other veg to the filling. I like sweetcorn, and some chopped fresh tomatoes, but you may want to experiment with something else. Hell you could add some mushrooms, but as a hater of fungi, I wouldn't ruin the dish ;-)

Leave the mixture to cool before making the burritos. It has a better consistency, and it also makes wrapping the tortillas easier. The easiest thing to do is to spread the tortillas onto a clean surface and then equally divide the filling among them. As I wrote earlier, I make 6 burritos but if you're brave/skilled, you could get 4 bigguns. Make the parcel by folding the bottom over the filling, fold in the sides, then fold over the top.

Place the burritos into an oven proof dish. Spoon the remainder of the chopped tomato over the top; you can add some of the spice mix to this, or you can stir in some tabasco sauce, if you really do like a kick. Sprinkle over some grated cheese.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20 mins, or until everything looks golden. Mine look darker as I used wholemeal wraps and Red Leicester cheese. The burritos can be served as a meal in itself, with a token salad (a la my creation), or with rice/chips/wedges if you are feeding more than two.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Master of Pickles


I thought I'd have a shot at pickling. Me and Tim have a (currently on indefinite hiatus, in traditional heavy metal band style) plan to sell pickles and preserves. Nothing has come of it yet, but I thought I'd try my hand at it whilst I'm in employment limbo.

This was quite a simple recipe. I didn't want to do normal pickled onions, I wanted something with a kick! So, inspired by the pickles my wonderful girlfriend has courtesy of her parents, I went about creating my own concoction.

Step 1: Brine the Veg!
I don't know why you have to do this but...you do, apparently. In a bowl, I threw in all of my ingedients and covered them in a healthy dose of salt (quite a lot of it) and left it overnight. The effect was that the water was drawn out of the veg and they created their own brine mixture. The veg I used were:

  • Shallots (top & tail then blanch them for a minute, the skins'll come off much easier!)
  • Cauliflower
  • Red Peppers
  • Olives
  • Turnips
  • Couple of HOT chilli peppers. I prefer Scotch Bonnet but all they had were Birds Eye.

When you've done that, go onto.....

Step 2 - The Vinegar
How much vinegar you need depends on how much you're making, so you'll have to be the judge of that. One of those big jars of pickling vinegar from the supermarket should do you fine for a good few jars of pickles.

Boil the vinegar and add to it pickling spices, which you can buy pre-mixed, or you can make your own. I boiled it for 5 minutes using the following:

  • Chilli Pepper
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Coriander Seeds
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • Ground Black Pepper
Then put it aside to cool. Make sure you do it in a stainless steel saucepan or, if you don't have one, a non stick saucepan. DO NOT USE ALUMINIUM PANS, it'll react with the vinegar.

Step 3 - Bring it all together baby!
Once your veg has brined overnight, it's time to bring it altogether. You'll need some airtight jars, and you'll need to sterilise them. I used some of Granny's old Kilner Jars which she kindly lent me. I think they're from WWII era, judging... :D

To sterilise them you need to heat them, and their lids, in the oven at Gas Mark 1/4 (1 quarter) for around about ten minutes. Then, take them out (careful, hot!) and fill them immediately with your pickle mix. Make sure you wash and drain the pickle mix thoroughly, otherwise your pickles may end up being too salty!

Then, pour the pickling vinegar over the top. Seal them.

Keep them in a cool, dark place for two weeks to a month before eating.

I currently have no idea what they taste like. >_>


Saturday, 4 September 2010

Curried War Ensemble

When cooking for friends or family it's often a good idea to make some big dishes that everyone can help themselves to.  This is because you can make sure you get more than everyone else without arousing suspicion.

The inspiration for these recipes came from the assortment of ingredients I had in my fridge at the time.  I had some spinach that needed to be used up and some minced beef, so I raided my spice collection.  That's the great thing about having a spice rack - it's an extremely inexpensive way of making a meal exciting (compared to, say, buying a bottle of red wine to make coq au vin).  I made the saag aloo (potato and spinach curry) for my mum as she's vegetarian but I had a little bit myself on the side of the mince curry, and it goes very well.

I'm no expert on Indian cooking but these spice combinations generally work well for me.  I will describe these recipes as if you are making all of them so that, if you are minded to do that, you have an idea about time management.

Ingredients (to serve four):

For the curried mince:
  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 x large onion
  • Generous, roughly thumb-sized piece of root ginger
  • 3 x large garlic cloves
  • 2 x green chillis
  • About 500ml good beef stock
  • 1 x 400g tin of Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 tbsps ground coriander
  • 8 x cloves
  • 2 x bay leaves
  • 1 x star anise
  • 2 x tbsps vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the saag aloo:
  •  A few handfuls of baby spinach, washed
  • 500g new potatoes
  • 1 x large onion
  • Generous, roughly thumb-sized piece of root ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 tbsps ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp whole fennel seeds
  • A couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 x tbsps vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the basmati rice:
  • 300g basmati rice (my secret ingredient - don't tell anyone)
  1. Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Add a pinch of salt, bring them to the boil and boil them for about 15 minutes until they're cooked through, then drain them.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat a large, non-stick frying pan on a pretty high heat and add the oil when it's hot.  Season your beef, making sure you use plenty of pepper, and brown it in the pan in batches so that it caramelises and doesn't leak proteins and other crap, thus ensuring a nice juicy meat finish.  If you're unsure, throw in one piece of beef as a sacrifice to the God of Curry to check that the oil is hot enough.  Remove each batch to a plate when done.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and take it off the heat if necessary so that you don't burn things.  Dice your onion.  Peel and grate the garlic and ginger and finely chop the chillis.  Add the garlic, ginger and chillis to the pan along with the cloves, star anise and bay leaves.  When they're fragrant, add the onions and soften them for about 10 minutes, then stir in the whole spices.  When they're fragrant as well, add the beef back in along with the tomatoes.  Bring it to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes.  Finally, add enough beef stock to almost cover the mixture and simmer gently for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat has absorbed almost all of the sauce.
  4. Meanwhile, put your rice in to soak.  When you've measured the amount of rice, pour it into a jug to see how much space it takes up, then put it in the saucepan.  Add 1.5 times as much cold water to the rice and let it soak for at least 20 minutes.  Bring it to the boil, stir it, reduce it to a VERY low simmer and cover it with a lid.  When the rice has absorbed all of the water, which should take about ten minutes, stir it again and fluff if up, then let it rest for another 20 while you concentrate on the potato curry.
  5. Make the saag aloo.  Heat some oil in a pan on a medium heat.  Dice the onion and grate the ginger and garlic.  Add them to the pan as before, then add the fennel seeds and powdered spices, followed by the potatoes.  Slice the tomatoes in half then add them as well.  Stir it all together, making sure everything is nicely coated, and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking/burning.  Add the spinach leaves at the last minute as you only want to wilt them, not stew them!
  6. Enjoy your curried War Ensemble! \m/

Friday, 3 September 2010

Easy-peasy Choccy Fudge Cake

I thought I'd celebrate my invitation to join this blog with cake. Choccy cake. Nay, choccy fudge cake. Oh yes.

This cake couldn't be simpler to make. You will need:

175g Self Raising Flour
2 TBSP cocoa
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
150ml sunflower (or other vegetable) oil
150ml milk, semi-skimmed is fine (not that it matters...)
2 TBSP golden syrup

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
Line your cake tin(s) - I give you the option of two sandwich tins, or one large cake tin
Sieve the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl
Make a well, and add the wet ingredients to the dry
Beat until you get a nice smooth mixture; it doesn't take that long at all by hand, so using an electric whisk must be a dream!
Pour the mixture into your tin(s); it is very runny, trust me, it will bake.
Bake the smaller tins for 25-30 minutes; the large single cake tin takes 45 minutes. When it's done, the cake is very springy, and if you use a cocktail stick to test, it should come out dry and clean.
Leave to cool in the tin.

When ready to ice, you will need:

75g butter, softened
175g icing sugar
3 TBSP cocoa

The butter needs to be soft, but not quite melted
Add the icing sugar and cocoa, sifted, a bit at a time, and beat the mixture until smooth
It will be very stiff, so add small amounts of milk until you get a spreadable consistency

If you were clever enough to make two halves separately, put some of the icing in the middle of the sandwiches, then cover the top of the cake
If, like me, you don't have two sandwich tins, carefully cut the cake in half and add the filling before covering with the remainder of the icing

Sit back, and enjoy your handiwork with a glass of something chilled and not too sweet!